Customers line up for local goods at The Yard Farmers Market. Photo by Scott Ball.

The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market, which was rumored to be on the verge of closing after an altercation on Sunday, March 15 between market owners/managers Heather Hunter and F. David Lent and the owners of Ming’s Thing food vendor, issued a statement via email stating that the market will remain open under new management.

The document states that reports about the closure of The Yard Farmers Market were “erroneous,” and that Sonny Naegelin is immediately assuming the role of manager. Naegelin, his wife Doris and their seven children own and manage Naegelin Farms, a four-generation family-owned and operated farm near Lytle, Texas, south of San Antonio.

The statement added that Naegelin, who founded the South Texas Farmers Market Association, has been an “advocate and leader in farmers market(s) for two decades.” Hunter and Lent are stepping down “so this market can continue to grow.”

“The media has sensationalized a personal disagreement and we need to do whatever we can to ensure this market continues,” Naegelin stated, who “understands the importance” of a producers-only farmers market – perhaps a sly reference to Lent’s prior comment that the disagreement with Ming’s Thing arose due to the vendor’s “inability” to source local ingredients, including meat and eggs, as requested.

The statement specifically references “proteins” and eggs: “Customers depend on … local and chemical-free produce grown by farmers and the hormone and antibiotic-free proteins and pastured eggs raised by the ranchers.”

Click here to download the statement, sent out by Hunter Wednesday afternoon.

Hinnerk von Bargen, co-owner of Ming’s Thing and one of the central figures in the altercation, said this was the first he had heard of the change in management. He said that he had been under the impression that Hunter and Lent were trying to sell the Farmer’s Market as an entity.

“For me, it’s a tarnished brand.” But, he added, the decision on whether or not to return to The Yard Market would ultimately be up to his wife, Ming Qian, who has expressed an interest in returning once the issue is resolved.

Ted Schaeffer, who runs CrepeLandia, a gluten-free crêpe stall, with his wife Chef Marissa Schaeffer, also said that this was the first he had heard of the change in management. The Schaeffers, like many vendors, had been planning on maintaining a presence at both The Yard Market and the Pearl Farmers Market. They felt they had no choice but the leave The Yard given the alleged racist component to Lent’s comments during an argument.

Schaeffer said that he was also under the impression that Lent and Hunter had been trying to sell the market. Given that Hunter and Lent do not technically own the land on which the market is held, Schaeffer feels that it would be impossible to sell the “idea” of the market.

“This is a co-op,” he said, “selling it would be an anathema to the idea of a farmers market.”

When asked if he and his wife might reconsider remaining at the market if it came under new management, he said that if Hunter and Lent retain some influence or stake in it, “Hell no.” But if indeed Naegelin is taking it over independently, “Maybe.”

*Featured/top image: Local produce lines the streets at The Yard Farmers Market.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Gretchen Greer

Gretchen Greer is a freelance writer and photographer, born and raised in San Antonio. She has lived in France and England, and currently divides her time between Texas, London and Burgundy. You can find...